Backyard Chickens and the City Council


A photo of Vickie MorganWhen I went to the city council meeting and I asked about having chickens I thought, Well, I will have my chickens by spring. Really, I thought my work was done. I mean, I got up my nerve and spoke and asked for the chickens, so that should be all I have to do, right? Wrong, nothing is ever quite that easy. When I went to the city council meeting last night, I found out that the next committee meeting that will be dealing with the chicken ordinance will be on February 1. There will be a total of two meetings to get the ordinance passed.

I pretty sure that the subject of having chickens in the backyard will be in the paper as there was a reporter in the audience. I have mixed feelings about this – I’m happy on one hand that the word will get out and more people that want chickens in their backyard will show up and give their support, and, on the other hand, I’m kind of nervous there will be people there also that don’t want their neighbors having chickens. Thanks to your helpful comments on a previous post I was able to get some answers to questions people might have. For instance, I’ve found out that four to five hens only produce as much waste as an average sized dog. Unlike dog and cat waste you are able to add chicken waste to your compost and reuse it in your garden. For even more information on changing city chicken ordinances there here are two websites that have been helpful to me, Chicken Revolution and Changing Your City's Chicken Laws.

About a week ago I was told it would be a good thing to contact my neighbors and find out if anyone else is interested in having chickens. So one bitter cold January evening I bundled up with my big coat, scarf, hat, gloves, and long johns underneath my jeans and walked to some of my neighbors to ask them if they are interested in owning chickens. Shaking from the cold, I started knocking on doors of the neighbors I knew. Most people generally were interested – they would say things like “what a neat idea,” but just as quickly add “but I don’t want to raise any.” Then I finally hit the jackpot, and I got one neighbor who was ready to go and said he would love to come to the meeting. Another neighbor across the street said she would love to have chickens for her granddaughter for educational purposes. The lady next to her said she didn’t want any chickens, but would come to the meeting, just to support me and see what a council meeting was all about. Now, she’s nice.

Have you ever been to a city council or town meeting before? To tell you the truth I haven’t, till I decided I wanted chickens. You might be like me and think, how boring. But they are truly interesting, and you find out all the things that are going on in your area. You get the information before any one else about what streets are going to be paved, rate increases, etc., and you get to have a voice. You get to go up front before the microphone and speak your mind and let the council members know how you feel. That is if you can gather up all your nerves. But you know, now that I’ve been to a couple, I think I might continue to go. I may not get to every one of them, but I am going to go to as many as possible and keep informed about my city. Something I should have done a long time ago.

Now, on to more neighbors, the ones I don’t know by name, and ask them if they would like to keep backyard chickens in the city. I have two weeks … and hopefully some warmer days for knocking on doors.

Something for reading by a nice fire:

10/6/2010 8:49:38 PM

My husband, kids and I just went to our second city council meeting. At the last meeting we brought up possibly changing the ordinance that does not allow chickens. We live in a small, rural, farming community and they are not allowed. We took information reguarding surrounding larger cities that DO allow chickens. They said that they would do some research and discuss it at the next meeting. Well, that was tonight and it was painfully clear that they did little to no research and had already had their minds made up. The main concern was that these little tiny towns don't have the funds or manpower to go around and make sure that people are following the rules. I guess my next step is to take a petition around town and see if anybody else would be interested/okay with allowing chickens in town. Any other suggestions?

8/27/2010 6:44:50 AM

Hi Sheri, Hope you finally get chickens -That's what it takes is momentum and support. We live in Burton MI and the city council couple of months ago voted for chickens! The permit has yet to come out yet but you can have 6 chickens but no roosters if you have a 1/2 acre. If you have less than 1/2 acre you can still go before the council and request to have chickens. Just what we need with this egg recall -people feel so much better knowing where there food comes from. vickie

6/30/2010 3:26:25 PM

Hi, I wondered what city you live in. I live in Roeland Park, Ks. and have just formed a group to help change the codes. I have been working on this for months and months now, but the momentum is picking up and I have more supporters now. The bitter sweet part is, I read the codes to say that hens were perfectly legal, as did some of the city council members and others that read them. The city staff disagreed and so I lost my chickens....for now. I find it so silly that I can't have 6 or 8 hens, but I could legally keep a crocodile up to 2 1/2 feet long or a boa constrictor up to 6 feet long. Strange world.

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